I had the privilege of attending a friend's wedding last night, and suffice to say, it was beautiful. Weddings are always beautiful.
|Beautiful wedding in Malibu, CA|
Maybe it's the hopeless romantic in me - that I'm such a believer in good and happy endings, which is why I absolutely adore weddings. (I have a secret Pinterest board which has more pins than all my other public boards - shh [who doesn't though?] )
But growing up, and looking around me, good and happy endings were getting rarer and harder to find. Most people who know me well will know my story. My family's story. And even in today's culture, breakups seem to be the norm. Just a couple of hours before the wedding, I was getting my hair done by this sweet lady who told me that she actually had just gone through a really bad divorce.
My heart sank.
I, like so many other people, so want to believe that it will be all rainbows and butterflies when a man and a woman finally cross that line. But as I grew older, I learned that the picture of marriage that society and the media paints for us is so unreal. When vows are made and the bride and groom kiss, the credits don't roll and there is no happy ending. In fact, if you're looking for stories that end with "happily ever after", you're better off reading a children's book. Because real relationships couldn't be farther from the truth. Think about it, have you ever finished a really good romantic novel, closed the cover and found yourself craving for more? We always want to know what happens AFTER the guy gets the girl. Where does their life go from there?
The reality of it is that it will require tough work - it will look messy and far from perfect. I think that the reason why most people either check out of their commitments so soon, or stay away from relationships all together is because of this fact. They either get taken by surprise that marriage isn't all that it's cut out to be, or they know too well what they're getting themselves into (because they've become well acquainted with pain) so they opt out. I once had a conversation with a coworker who told me that she's hesitant to get married because "it's too big of a commitment". Don't get me wrong, singleness can be a gift, so I am not saying that people who choose to be single are not in the right. But when we look to romantic relationships (or lack thereof) for our happiness, something is broken. Our relationships, marriages, and blessed singleness should point to something or Someone other than ourselves. The apostle Paul puts it so eloquently in 1 Corinthians 7 (v.25-40) - just as marriages are meant to reflect the way Christ loves the church, singleness is meant to be a time to be single-minded about Christ and His work. Even we as a church, a community - are meant to represent Christ's body here on this earth; to be so radical in our love for one another that the world can't help but notice. And it's not the kind of love that society tells us - to be accepting by being tolerant. He addresses that too further in his letter when we reach chapter 13. But I digress.
Back to the wedding I attended last night: More than having a really grand time, I would say that the event was really sobering. One of the things I really look forward to at weddings is listening to the bride and groom's vows, and the one I attended yesterday had really beautiful ones:
"I can't promise you a happily ever after, but I promise to lead you to the One who will lead us to Perfection." (something like that)
At the reception, I was having a conversation with Nate during dinner time. He pointed out that the newlyweds could be fighting against all odds for the rest of their lives. I'll leave out the details because that's their story to tell; but they have been since the beginning and getting into a covenantal relationship didn't necessarily make things simpler. If those were the circumstances at hand, why were we celebrating? Why was there laughter and rejoicing and music and happy tears? Why were there decorations and photos being taken? Why would they put such a huge effort into something that, to the rest of the world, seemed like an impossible situation? Why bother?
Because they knew marriage was not about them. Not about their happiness or satisfying their needs. The Groom and his Bride both found their satisfaction in Christ and saw past each others messes and loved each other for who they really are: image bearers of the Creator God.
Pause: There's a lot that would change in our world if we learned to look at one another as image-bearers of Christ. Think of all the racial discrimination, man-hating, misogyny, trivializing, child and elder abuse that would go away if we treated one another as Imago Dei. (wish I could expound on this more, but someone dedicated a whole series about this which I would love for you to check out)
They were called to be together because they do a much better job at glorifying the Lord together than they do on their own. They understood that they will fall short in many things, but "where the ideal is lacking, Grace abounds" (Matt Chandler). The gospel was shared to the wedding guests who attended that night and the message was welcomed so warmly. I'd like to think that it was because they didn't just hear it, but they also saw it unfold before their eyes and do its work in the lives of the now husband-and-wife. Their union was the fruit of that Work.
May our lives and our relationships always mirror the love of Christ for sinners.